June 13, 2013

State Roundup, June 13, 2013

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JUVIE TREATMENT CENTER TO GROW: The Maryland Board of Public Works voted Wednesday to allow a Carroll County treatment center for juveniles to double its size to 96 beds — twice the state cap of 48 — despite a policy of sending troubled teens to smaller facilities for treatment, reports the Sun’s Erin Cox. “It’s not ideal,” Gov. Martin O’Malley, a member of the board, said after voting for the expansion. “It’s not ideal at all.”

GROUP HOME DENIED STATE FUNDING: THIS IS A REVISED AND CORRECTED VERSION OF AN EARLIER POSTING : The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved 44 new contracts for child residential care services in locations throughout Maryland totaling over $364 million over five years. But one Montgomery County provider did not win an award for a group home that the state and Montgomery County have previously invested in, virtually ensuring the foreclosure of the Sandy Spring group home, its founder said.

RAIN TAX REVISITED: Anyone upset by the implementation of the so-called rain tax can take heart, writes Bryan Sears of Patch.com. The Maryland General Assembly may yet tinker with it, according to Sen. Ed Kasemeyer, chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.

EMBARRASSING: There is no way Gov. O’Malley can make Maryland’s prison embarrassment disappear. Lord knows he’d like to, blogs Barry Rascovar on politicalmaryland.com. If he’s serious about running for president, O’Malley must explain why he was so slow to respond to the growing influence of street gangs within state prisons over the past seven years.

BUSINESS CLIMATE STUDY: The House of Delegates work group formed this year to study Maryland’s business climate has been meeting with businessmen around the state since the General Assembly concluded, writes Alexander Pyles for Daily Record.

HOPPER TO HEAD MEA: Abigail Ross Hopper, Gov. O’Malley’s energy adviser since 2010, has been named director of the Maryland Energy Administration, according to an AP story in The Daily Record. O’Malley announced the appointment on Wednesday. Hopper has been acting director of MEA since last year, and will continue to be energy adviser.

JOB TRAINING INITIATIVE: Gov. O’Malley sought to highlight a new job-training initiative during a visit Wednesday to a Baltimore company that manufactures high-tech products for customers including the U.S. Navy, reports the Post’s John Wagner.

NO TO PROPOSAL: The Maryland Historical Trust has spiked a proposal to put colored fabric art, lighting and pennants on the roof of Annapolis’ Market House, a 225-year-old historic waterfront building whose tenants have been struggling to make a go of it, the Capital reports.

GOVERNOR’S RACE: On Political Pulse, a long-running show on Montgomery County cable, MarylandReporter.com editor Len Lazarick analyzes the governor’s race with host Charles Duffy in a half-hour video taped last week. (It’s pretty interesting, if we do say so ourselves.)

MIZEUR’S LINE: The campaign of Del. Heather Mizeur, who is gearing up for a 2014 gubernatorial bid, on Wednesday sought to recruit supporters by advertising that she would be the first openly gay governor elected in the country, writes John Wagner of the Post. The pitch was part of an e-mail solicitation sent out by Mizeur’s campaign manager that sought contact information from people willing to “stand with Heather.”

WHERE’S GANSLER? A number of observers have wondered whether Attorney General Doug Gansler is waiting too long to get his campaign for governor up to full speed, writes Laslo Boyd for Center Maryland. The issue is certainly not whether he’s going to run. And it’s not whether he’s going to have enough money to fund his campaign. The question is whether he should be starting his public campaign now or at least soon.

ATTORNEY GENERAL DEBATE: Len Lazarick of MarylandReporter.com writes that the first roundtable discussion consisted of two of the four declared candidates for Attorney General and a stand-in.

LEGGETT’S RUN: Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett’s announcement Wednesday that he is seeking re-election for the county’s top spot sets up a Democratic showdown with his predecessor and a county lawmaker who has been critical of his spending, the Washington Examiner’s Kate Jacobson reports.

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GROUNDHOG DAY IN MO CO: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland is reeling as he looks at the players in the race for Montgomery County executive. He’s hearing “I Got You Babe” in that interminable loop of “Groundhog Day.”

RACIAL PROFILING: A coalition of civil liberties and immigrant-rights advocates led by Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland wants to strengthen a provision in the Senate’s sweeping immigration bill that would prohibit law enforcement agencies from racial profiling, reports John Fritze in the Sun.

STATE-OWNED RESORT FAILING: The state-owned Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay resort in Cambridge continues to deplete a reserve fund to cover its semiannual debt payments because it is not making enough money, report Lorraine Mirabella and Jamie Smith Hopkins in the Sun. The state withdrew $2 million from the reserve June 1, cutting the fund’s balance nearly in half to $2.3 million, according to a June 4 letter to the Maryland Economic Development Corp., which owns the golf resort hotel and conference center on the Choptank River.

BAG THE BAG TAX: Sun columnist Dan Rodricks is agreeing with Bob Santoni, the outspoken owner of the Baltimore City supermarket that bears his family’s name, that some members of the brain trust running Baltimore have stepped through the looking glass. Santoni is talking about a proposal by a young city councilman to impose a 10-cent fee for every plastic bag provided in a retail establishment.

ALL ABOUT A LOBBYIST: Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake confirmed that she spent Memorial Day weekend at the beach house of the city’s top lobbyist, Lisa Harris Jones. The trip comes only days after Rawlings-Blake officiated at Harris Jones’ wedding in Las Vegas, according to a WBFF-TV report.

Luke Broadwater of the Sun reports that the mayor defended the excursion as a harmless beach getaway by two close friends and their families. She said she didn’t discuss city business on the trip and paid the “common rental rate” to stay at Harris Jones’ vacation home.

Mark Reutter of Baltimore Brew profiles Harris Jones, writing that it’s hard to think of the polished 45-year-old as anything but a power player given that she hobnobs with the governor’s brother in Vegas clubs, gets Facebook shout-outs from a who’s who of city and state officials and has nothing but love from many quarters.

Barry Rascovar says “the appearance of impropriety is so sharp and stunning.”